On the Road | Blog

HIKING : We hiked Rough Ridge, off the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC, and LOVED it!

We started out at Price Lake. We decided to rent kayaks. This was a lot of fun, and the views from down on the water were amazing! You have the mountains, the rhododendrons dotting the shoreline, it was an amazing time! And it really wasn’t that expensive! We rented three kayaks. A double was $13, and we had two singles at $10 each. They say it’s for an hour, but they don’t time it or anything. I bet you could stay out for a few hours. They take all forms of payment, even Apple Pay. Payments are taken after you kayak. Children 13 and under have to have a life jacket on that they provide. Over 13, you just have to have a life jacket on the kayak. We will definitely do it again!

If you’re visiting Boone, NC and are looking for a great hike, head over to Grandfather Mountain and do the Rough Ridge Trail. Oh, and rent a kayak while you’re at it!

Michelle Bowers

After kayaking, we decided to do one last hike! We have never done Rough Ridge overlook. It is always a crowded parking lot, so we decided to see what was up there! It did not disappoint!!!

It’s under a two-mile hike round trip, but it’s a lot of climbing so it is slow going. You will hike up to a boardwalk area. There are great views from that spot on a normal day, but it was foggy for us. That’s where the picture of the four of us was taken. You might want to turn around at that point. I suggest you keep going. The hike does get a bit more difficult. You are climbing a lot of boulders, some were slippery for us.

We made it to the very top and wow! There were a few other people up there eating lunch. The views!! If you look to one side you can see the viaduct. Such an amazing view! If you zoom in on my picture you will be able to see it. That’s one thing about the mountains that is so crazy. Five minutes before we made it to the top we were trapped in the clouds and couldn’t see a thing. 50 yards farther up and it was clear! We will definitely do Rough Ridge again!!

You will also see a picture of a baby deer. It had to have been just a few days old. He was so tiny and wobbly!! His mom was right with him. She looked at us so nonchalantly like, “hurry up and get your picture, humans!”

We do love the mountains! Didn’t want to leave! And my lucky daughter got to call it home when she attended Appalachian State University!

About the hike…

Here is a description of the hike from

The cliff-lined alpine crest of Rough Ridge offers some of the Parkway’s most startling vistas. Grandfather Mountain’s peaks tower overhead, far above the Piedmont, for a nearly vertical-mile rise, one of the greatest drop-offs of the Blue Ridge escarpment. Mount Mitchell lies on the southern horizon.

Start at Rough Ridge Parking Area on the Tanawha Trail (no pets permitted, even on leash) and scenic boardwalk views are just a 0.3 mile, moderate walk with some steep steps and rocky tread.

Leave the parking area, ascend log steps to a junction, and take the Tanawha Trail left (to the right, it leads to Price Park). Cross an arching wood bridge over a cascade to an often-soggy trail through evergreens and up stone steps. Hiking through blueberry bushes, you’ll pass a distinctive stack rock formation on the right as you begin 200 feet of ascending, scenic boardwalk. Stay on the boardwalk, designed to keep hikers from trampling the low, fragile vegetation.

As you’re standing on the platforms, the vista engulfs you. From the three loftiest summits of Grandfather Mountain, an expansive chute drops past the Linn Cove Viaduct and Parkway snaking to the south. Far below lie the rippling ridges of Pisgah National Forest. Climbers call the faces below Rough Ridge “Ship Rock,” and the crags are among the South’s most popular rock-climbing sites (do not throw rocks!).

Hike another 0.3 mile up rocky but nicely graded switchbacks to the top where cable-defined pathways keep people on the paths amid fragile and low-growing mats of Allegheny sand myrtle and the tall white flowers of turkey beard. Hike back to your car for a 1.2-mile hike.

To reach the top from another direction, start at the Wilson Creek Overlook and hike out-and-back to Rough Ridge. Starting at Wilson Creek, take the side trail under the Parkway 0.1 mile and go right on the Tanawha Trail. The trail drops to within sight of the road then gradually climbs though boulder fields with spring wildflowers and towering trees. Stone steps reach the summit of Rough Ridge, just under 1.0 mile from the Wilson Creek Parking Area (about 2.0 miles round-trip).

How to get there…

This hike is on the Grandfather Mountain portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Linville and south of Blowing Rock. Start at either Wilson Creek Overlook (Milepost 303.6) or Rough Ridge Overlook (Milepost 302.8).